National Security & Defense

The Corner

The Eighties Called; They Got Their Foreign Policy Back

So this holds up well, right? Here’s Barack Obama in 2012:

Here’s the CIA, according to reports yesterday:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

This is an extraordinary conclusion and one that comes after Russia has spent years defying the United States and exerting its will abroad — invading Ukraine, menacing the Baltics, and partnering with Iran to tip the balance of power in Syria. Has there ever been a greater mismatch between the extent of the threat and a president’s dismissal than Obama’s tone in 2012? It’s worse even than declaring ISIS the “JV team” because in mocking Mitt he was minimizing the strength and influence of a nuclear-armed great power with a long history of antagonism to the U.S. 

This is an important moment. Republicans who minimize the CIA assessment are exposing their own hypocrisy. Can you imagine the GOP outcry if a similar assessment was made after Hillary Clinton won the election — with a margin of less than 100,000 votes in key states? There would be a near-meltdown on talk radio, on Fox News, and online. A president-elect who seeks to lead all Americans — and not just double-down with his mindless partisan base — should proactively enlist the president in a joint call for a complete, thorough, and bipartisan investigation of Russian efforts, complete with an analysis of any American strategic, intelligence, or defense failures that may have left our nation more vulnerable to Russian influence.

Instead, Trump says this: “”These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.” Instead, there are now reports that he’s settled on Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, a man with very close, very friendly ties to the Putin government:

There is time for Trump to reverse course, to call for an investigation into Russian activities and to nominate a secretary of state who’s known for clearly understanding Russian intentions and the extent of Russian aggression. Trump is president of an entire nation, not just the leader of his movement, and he needs to move quickly to acknowledge that millions of Americans are feeling exactly as Republicans would if the roles were reversed. 

Yes, the Eighties have called. They have their foreign policy back. The Russians know it. Obama finally knows it. Does Trump?

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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